When, Where, And How To See One Of Maui’s Best Sights
Some people never see the crater because they heard you have to go up there at sunrise, and sunrise comes at a bad time of day, especially when you are on vacation and don’t feel like getting up at 3 AM to start the trip up to the top. But there is no need to go at sunrise. In my opinion, the crater looks best in the middle of the day, when the sunlight is shining down into the depths, lighting up the sand and rocks and minerals and making them sparkle.
You can take a van tour to this 10,023-foot peak (the highest point on Maui) or drive up there yourself. Pick up a free map in the baggage-claim area of the Maui airport, or at the concierge desk in any hotel. The drive is somewhat difficult on a winding mountain road. Allow about two and a half hours each way, plus time to stop for sightseeing along the way. It’s in a national park, so there is a small park entrance fee.
If you are going to drive up to the crater for sunrise, you will need a permit in advance. (This is separate from the national park entrance fee which you pay as you enter the park.) The price for a sunrise permit is $1.50 per car, and you have to get it before you go, from this web page. The permit requirement for sunrise on Haleakala started February 1, 2017, because too many cars were showing up for sunrise some days, and there often were not enough parking spaces for all of them. So they now issue a limited number of permits (150) in order to limit the number of cars at the summit at the time of sunrise. You do not need an advance permit if you are going to the top of Haleakala after sunrise (after 7 AM).
The temperature at the top is 20 to 25 degrees colder than at the beach, and it can be windy, so bring all your warmest clothes. It can be cloudy sometimes at the summit, blocking some or all of your view of the crater. For current weather at the top of Haleakala see Haleakala Weather (refresh the page to get the latest results).
Although Maui’s volcano last erupted only about 225 years ago, that eruption was on the south side, south of Makena. The crater at the top last erupted 650 years ago.
Usually you just view the crater from the rim. But if you are more adventurous, you can hike down into the crater (very difficult hiking back up). If you are wondering about the famous bike ride down the mountain (not recommended), click for my page about bike the volcano.
See photos and video below. Or click for more things to do on Maui.
Photos of the crater at the top of Haleakala Volcano
Jon on horse in crater:
Sunset at the top of the volcano:
See the page of Things To Do In Maui for luaus, whale watching, snorkeling, tours, helicopters, horseback riding, ATV, dinner cruises, parasailing, fishing, zipline, biking, golf, beaches, kids and family fun, and more.